Optimism. Who needs it? A chastising loss at the hands of Manchester United dashed the optimism that many Cardiff fans held going into the Christmas period. And their Boxing Day opponents, Crystal Palace, will have mainlined optimism after an unexpected 3-2 victory over the blue side of Manchester. Oh how the other half live…
Crystal Palace vs. Cardiff City
Selhurst Park, London
26th December 2018, 3pm (GMT)
Referee: Lee Probert
Cardiff City starting XI
And three things to look out for.
Murphy needs a break. Josh Murphy from those early games seems to have been replaced by an imposter. Gone are the fearless runs, impetuous take-ons and whipped crosses and these have been replaced by an edge of fear. He doesn’t seem to be playing with the same freedom as ten games ago and I’m not sure if that’s him or the system. Either way, it might be time to give him a little break on an away day and try something different.
Zohore to start. Paterson needs some extra support. He’s working hard but there’s no-one playing beyond him. Maybe it’s time to play Zohore as something other than a target man? Watching him against United, he was getting beyond players with ease and looking at footage from last season, he likes getting into channels. Now that he’s back to fitness, maybe it’s time we tried something different? Allowing Zohore to play off a target man could give us a new dimension – and heaven knows Zohore has the ability to test defenders.
More from the midfield. Against Watford, Deulofeu’s first goal came when he exploited the space between defence and midfield. Against United, our midfield went missing for at least two of the goals – Herrera’s goal came when Arter stopped tracking his man and no-one went with Martial for the third. With the rumour mill grinding, the central midfielders might be looking over their shoulder at who could come in. And Ralls has been dropped for less this season…
Palace players to watch out for
Wilf Zaha had an ill-fated loan spell at Cardiff; memorable for one raking run away at Southampton. But since that season, he’s become talismanic for Palace and he’s vital to the way they play. Back in the line-up for the win at Man City, Zaha has it all and will be raring to go back at Selhurst Park.
Palace has a midfield packed with good players; Meyer, Milivojevic, Townsend are all coming into a bit of form at the right time. Townsend’s goal at the Etihad is being hailed as one of the goals of the season and Milivojevic is scoring often this season.
Best case result
Palace should be ready to capitalise on their unexpected win at the Etihad but one has hope that they will take their collective foot off the pedal for the visit of lowly Cardiff. Warnock won’t be happy with the United performance and will want to mark his return to a former club with his first away win of the season. Cardiff need a win. 1-0 to the Blues.
Worst case result
We were incredibly bad against United. There was no energy, no fight. The things that have marked our season up until now. The team looks lacking in energy and with three games in a week from Boxing Day, a bad start at a better-than-their-position-suggests Palace could set-up a disastrous run. Palace have good players. They just need to be consistent. And it could start with us. 2-0.